DIY: Homemade Yogurt {thick and creamy}

Thick and Creamy Yogurt


I’ve been making my own yogurt for about 5 years.  I’ve always wanted the thick and creamy yogurt you buy at the store, but I didn’t want to add pectin or gums to my yogurt.  I’ve finally figured out the trick to making thick yogurt.

I use the Bulgarian yogurt culture from Cultures of Health and I think that plays a big role in my thick yogurt making success.  I also ferment my yogurt for a full 24 hours.

Homemade yogurt


Step 1: Heat desired amount of milk to 180 degrees.  Let cool to 100 degrees then add in your starter.  I use a scant 1/4 cup of starter (yogurt from a previous batch) per quart of milk.  Stir until well combined.

Homemade yogurt (2)


Step 2: Pour milk and yogurt mixture into jars or a fermenting vessel.  I prefer quart jars.

homemade yogurt (3)


Step 3: Cover loosely with lids (do not tighten, just place them on there or cover with a tea towel.


homemade yogurt (4)


Step 4: Place yogurt in a fermenting chamber.  I use a heating pad set to low covered with towels to ferment my yogurt.  I’ve also used my Excalibur dehydrator set to 105 degrees to ferment my yogurt, placing the jars in my oven with the oven light on, door closed (do not turn the oven on, just the oven light), and I’ve use the cooler method.  The cooler method is placing the jars of milk/yogurt into a cooler and filling with hot tap water, sealing the cooler and letting sit for 24 hours to ferment.  Pick a method and let your yogurt ferment for 24 straight hours.

Homemade yogurt (5)


Step 5: After your milk/yogurt mixture has fermented for 24 hours you should have thick and creamy yogurt.

Serve chilled.

DIY: Homemade Yogurt {thick and creamy}

Rating: 51

Yogurt is easy to make at home once you learn the method. Practice until you get it right.



  1. Heat milk to 180 degrees, let cool to 100 degrees then add in your starter and stir until combined. Use 1/4 cup of starter per one quart of milk.
  2. Pour milk/yogurt mixture into jars, and place in a fermenting chamber.
  3. Let ferment for 24 straight hours.
  4. After 24 hours, you should have yogurt now.
  5. Place in cold storage and serve chilled.
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Katie is a military wife and mother of 4 with 1 on the way. She is passionate about family, food and serving the LORD. By day you may find her changing diapers, folding laundry, home educating her older children, and cooking three meals a day with a baby on her hip next to a sink of dirty dishes. By night she writes and shares recipes, tips, and tutorials for economical, nourishing and simple gluten-free foods at Simple Foody.

Latest posts by Katie (see all)


    • Katie says

      I personally don’t think it’s sour at all. But I also haven’t bought yogurt in 4 years so I’m not sure how it compares to store bought it taste/sourness. My kids eat it plain, no sweetener and can eat 8-16 ounces if I let them.

    • Andriea says

      Thanks for this great post!! there is one other way to make thick and delicious yogurt without the strain…make it in a pure-clay pot. that’s what I’ve been doing for 3 years now. love the thickness, i can even use it for making icing for my cakes… its gets so thick… The micro-pores in the pot slowly let the water evaporate and thicken the yogurt naturally. I got my yogurt clay pots from Miriams Earthen Cookware…. they’re made USA!

        • says

          Me too! I will also try the starter you recommend. Right now I use basic store brand plain yogurt, then previous batch homemade yogurt. Can you freeze the yogurt made with heirloom for future use as starter? My fav tip for thickening without reducing yield or using fillers is to chill the entire pot right after incubation. Don’t stir, strain or disturb it at all. Whole pot goes right into fridge for several hours at least. It really makes a difference in creaminess, and less whey comes out when I strain it later. I’ve read that it “sets” the protein molecules. Whatever the science, it tastes better and you end up with more, even if strained until very thick.

      • Shannon says

        Oh thank you. i got a pure clay pot from Miriams earthen cookware. make my yogurt in it regularly. love the quality and the fact that it turns out thick naturally without having to add additives.

  1. says

    My recipe for yogurt is very similar, but it is not as thick. I’ll have to try letting it ferment longer and see if that helps. Thanks for the step-by-step instructions. I enjoy seeing how others go through the process.

    • Katie says

      What starter do you use? I didn’t start getting really thick results until I started using Cultures for Health’s starter. I really do think that and the 24 hour fermenting time is what does the trick.

  2. says

    Well it looks like I know what I will be purchasing this coming pay day! We go through a LOT of yogurt in our house. With 7 kids who all love the creamy kind they let out that wee sigh when my homemade batches turn up runny. I’ve tried all sorts of ways to ‘remedy’ the situation. But the only one that has really worked is straining the finished yogurt. But I hate loosing so much food (we do keep the whey for other things) after I spent a while making it! I can’t wait to try this culture.

    Thank you,

  3. says

    I’ve been wanting to try to make my own yogurt for a while, but it always seems so difficult to me. Your step by step guide makes it seem so simple. Thanks for sharing this with our readers at the Get Fit Friday Hop. I will be sharing this on my FB page also. I look forward to reading more.

  4. says

    I looooove homemade yogurt. Tastes so good and none of the nasties that are in the store-bought yogurt. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe on Wellness Wednesdays!

  5. says

    This is AWESOME! I make homemade yogurt but it could never be described as thick. I am trying this recipe this week! And I am also featuring this post on the link-up that just went live tonight! Blessings!

    • Katie says

      Thanks Kasey. Let me know how it goes. I’d love to troubleshoot with you if it’s isn’t perfect. I think the big secret is the starter.

  6. Jennifer Lawrenson says

    Excited to try your recipe! It’s hard to find a good thick Organic yogurt! I am wondering, do you ever add sweetener or flavoring to your yogurt? If you do, when is the best time to do that? I’m hoping to make a thick sweeter vanilla yogurt. 🙂

  7. Minky says

    Thanks for this great post. We’ve been buying plain Greek yogurt for a long time, not having a clue how simple it was to make. Now we know!

    It’s in the oven right now…it’s been about 8 hours…can’t wait to check it out tomorrow! I hope this won’t ruin anything, but I was so curious to check it out, so I uncovered the bowl and took a whiff and it smells just like yogurt, so exciting!

    Being the first time making it, we used whole milk and a store bought Greek yogurt as a starter to practice, but if all goes well, we’ll move onto to organic milk and maybe even get the starter you use too :). Hopefully practice will make perfect yogurt.

    • Katie says

      If you are using greek yogurt as your starter you will have some different results from me. After your yogurt cultures you should find lots of whey (water looking stuff over the yogurt)….this is normal, don’t throw it away. Drain the whey off and use it in smoothies, as a soaking agent, etc. There are lots of uses for it. Store the remaining yogurt in a container in the fridge. If you have any questions let me know.

  8. Monique says

    Thanks so much Katie! I just took it out of the oven (with oven light on all night), tasted it, and OMG, it is creamy, mild and delish!!!! I put it in the fridge to thicken up a bit more, and to strain the whey.

    Great tip on keeping the whey, we’re going to use your tip and add to smoothies, since we drink them every morning. Thanks again for your awesome blog, we are so happy to have discovered you!

  9. says

    I tried making yogurt in the slow cooker and my family was not wild about it. I think it was a bit thin. This looks like something that they would enjoy.

    I have a Friday series called Feeding Big on Less Money and it has a link party associated with it. I would love it if you would link this and any other posts that you want to share. Thanks so much, hope to see you there!

  10. jamie says

    question: When I make yogurt I bring the milk home from the farm (still warm) and pop it into the dehydrator for 24 hours. It comes out thick and yummy. Is this actually yogurt? Does it matter if it cultures on its own or does it need a definite culture to be called yogurt?

    • Katie says

      This is called clabbered milk, which is a fermented dairy product with wild yeasts/cultures. Not really ‘yogurt’. But if it works for your family and you like it, why change it?

  11. Beth says

    Have you ever tried it in the crock pot? I really like that method, but it is a little more runny. If I spent money on the good starter I wouldn’t want to ruin it in the crock pot!

    • Katie says

      Yes I have once. I didn’t like it, it wasn’t ‘yogurt’ like. The kids didn’t really want to eat it, so it went to smoothies and I haven’t done it since. But there are folks out there that swear by that method.

    • Norma says

      My first attempts at yogurt-making were in a crockpot. It took about 3 hrs. to get the milk to 180º. I also added powdered milk to increase the protein content, and put the crockpot (wrapped in towels) in the oven with the oven light on overnight. Then I strained the yogurt to get my Greek yogurt consistency. I’m so glad I came across this site. I want to simplify my process. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions! I am going to try heating in a pot–should be quicker. I’m going to let it sit for 24 hours hoping to develop a tangier flavor. (still going to use the oven method) Hopefully my product will be thicker and not require straining. Thanks, everyone, for your help!

  12. says

    Tomorrow is yogurt-making day here so I’m definitely going to have to try this! I have the CfH Bulgarian starter, but have never been able to make it that thick and creamy without straining it. However I do only culture it the six hours they recommend so I wonder if 24 hours will do the trick. Thanks for the idea!

  13. Julie Harding says

    Thanks for the great post. The last 2 times I’ve made yogurt, I’ve accidentally let it ferment for 24 hours because I was tired at night & forgot to put it up. 🙂 I’m glad to know that wasn’t such a bad thing. I guess I need to give in and order some of that culture to get mine thicker. I’ve been straining it, but my method leaves a lot to be desired. As I was trying to pour the thicker strained yogurt back into the jars this morning, it spilled ALL over the counter, cabinets, & floors. Today will be known as the great yogurt debacle of 2013.

  14. Lauren says

    Would this work with homemade almond milk? We’re vegan but love yogurt. However, I hate all the junk in store bought dairy free yougurts.

    • Katie says

      Laren, that is a good question. I personally have never tried it with almond milk although I have tried it with coconut milk and it’s worked. You will find some more information about making vegan yogurt here. I’d love to know the results you get.

  15. Petra says

    I’m curious why you recommend heating the yogurt to only 160. I thought 180 was the “standard.” Does the longer fermentation time compensate for the lower starting temp in making the yogurt thicker? I make yogurt weekly and am always looking for way to improve the process and make thicker/creamier yogurt. Thanks!

    • Katie says

      Petra, thank you for pointing that out. Honestly, I don’t check my milk with a thermometer when I heat it, I do it all by sight. You are right, the milk should be heated to 180 not 160 I will go change that. We’ve been making yogurt for years (5-6 years) and I have learned what the milk looks likes once it reaches the boiling point, I used to check it to make sure that indeed it was 180 but no longer do (and haven’t for years) and I’ve never had any problems. The whole point to heating the milk to 180 is to kill any bacteria that may be present. The longer fermentation of the yogurt is so that the bacteria you introduced to the yogurt (the culture) has enough time to eat all the sugar in the milk (lactose) so that it is easily digestible, I also found that this makes the yogurt much thicker.

  16. Eunice says

    So do you just lay the heating pad over the top and cover with towels? And if you do the cooler method, how much water do you put in there, just a few inches? Sorry form all the questions, but I have never done anything like this and needed a little more information.

    • Katie says

      Eunice, if using a heating pad, I place the jars ON TOP of the heating pad, not the heating pad on top of the jars. The jars will be on top of the heating pad, then I cover the jars with a couple towels. If using the cooler method, I normally fill it with hot tap water about 3/4 up the jar…so it depends how much water you will need. If your using pint jars, less if using quart jars more. If your using another vessel then just until the water covers 3/4 of the vessel.

  17. Pam Hurley says

    Hey Katie…I wonder if different climates affect yogurt culturing differently. The reason I say this is because the first time I tried making yogurt I used about a 1/4 cup starter per quart and the yogurt came out grainy with a lot of whey. It tasted good but the texture was weird. I did some research and found out the reason for the texture was that I used too much starter. So the next time I did it, I used only 1 teaspoon per quart. Yes, you read that right.. 1 teaspoon. It turned out fabulously. So, all this to say…I’m not contradicting you on your method because it obviously works for many people. But if for some reason someone gets results like I initially did, they need to decrease the amount of starter and try again. Can’t wait to get back in the kitchen today…so glad I read this post because I had planned to make yogurt today and now I’m going to try some of the pointers in your method….see if I can make it even better!

    • Katie says

      This is interesting. I’m sure there are a lot of factors that could change the texture and culturing of yogurt. When I make raw yogurt (not heating the milk over 90 degrees), I get a very grainy yogurt and do not like it so we always heat the raw milk to 160-ish. What culture did you use for the starter? I’d like to try it.

    • says

      That depends on so many factors. How cool or warm your house is. If you left the pot on the burner or moved it to another spot or put it on ice, etc. I can’t give you an exact time. I generally let mine sit for an hour or so and check it. If your in a hurry you can set the pot in a bowl of ice and it will cool much faster.

  18. Kelli says

    If I use the cooler method for my incubator, should I still let it sit for 24 hours? I’ve been doing 3 hours and I have some whey left and I’ve just been using the standard Dannon yogurt as my starter. I’d like to get to the point where I can blend in frozen fruits for some variety without having to strain the yogurt first. I’d really appreciate any thoughts you have on how to get there! Thanks!

    • says

      You don’t *have* to let the yogurt incubate for 24 hours, but I personally prefer it. I never have to strain my yogurt, but I also don’t use the Dannon starter either. I also don’t blend any fruits in until we are going to eat it. Hope that helps, not sure if I answered your question or not.

  19. Debbie says

    If you add 1 1/2 cups of mull cream powdered milk / quart, which increases the protein content, 1/2 cup pure maple syrup and a tablespoon of vanilla extract when you boil your milk, everyone will love your yoghurt because it will always be thick and creamy and yummy

    • says

      Jars should be clean, you can sanitize them with boiling water if you prefer, but I don’t. I find a simple run through the dishwasher is suffice.

  20. Karen Janssen says

    If you start with raw milk it will no longer be raw when you heat it to 180. I collected several different brands/varieties of yoghurt and Kefir as a starter. Sanitation is crucial to keep other bugs from moving in – especially since you will be re-using starter from the last batch each time. I use a brewing sanitizer which is food safe. I also re-use quart yoghurt plastic tubs or 2 quart Ricotta tubs. I leave it on my electric stove overnight with a large cookie tray upside down and a grill on top of the cookie tray. Turn the burners on low and toss a towel over it. I stick an instant read thermometer on top of the tubs just to keep tabs on the temp.

    • Karen Janssen says

      Adding pwdr milk thickens the yoghurt. I use enough to make the same amount of milk effectively doubling it. (2 gallons milk + enough pwder milk to make 2 gallons) I sweeten a bit with stevia which is a natural non-caloric sweetener.

  21. Kristi says

    I have a question about buying the starter. Do you only have to use to bought starter once and then you always just use leftover yogurt as starter forever or do you have to add more of the bought starter after a few uses?

    Also, do you know how long whey is good for if kept in the fridge?

    Thanks! I am so excited to try the longer 24 hour time. I am hoping it helps!

    • says

      You only have to use the starter once, then you will use yogurt from a previous batch as the starter. Whey should keep 7-14 days in the fridge. Hope that helps.

        • Lia says

          Sorry, two more questions. In order to get the milk to the correct temperature I always end up scorching some on the bottom. I always end up with a dark brown milk film on the bottom of the pan. Any tips on alleviating this? Also if you use anything except the hot water in cooler method, how can you tell it is the correct temperature?

  22. caitlin says

    Hi, these suggestions are great! I am activating my Bulgarian starter in the milk at 105 in my dehydrator now. Is the 24 hour suggestion for the initial activation step as well? Cant wait to see how it turns out, thank you!

  23. Cherry says

    If you use the heating pad method, how do you manage to stop the automatic shut off so many of them seem to have now? I did mine yesterday, made a quart of Bulgarian and a quart of Greek. Put both on the heating pad and it turned off at 4 hours. It seems to have set but I have a lot of whey in it. Is this normal for the first time?

    • says

      I’m not sure how to get around that. My heating pad is older than me (really…it is) and there is no shut-off on it. When making greek yogurt it is normal to have a lot of whey, just drain it off.

  24. Terry King says

    One thing you might not know is that the good bacteria you get from homemade yoghurt is much more than store bought. This might mean some initial gastrointestinal discomfort. It passes quickly and your body adapts. Bear with it and you won’t be sorry.

  25. says

    Quick tip: to get thicker and firmer yogurt, just add a couple of spoonfuls of powdered milk as you cook. Works great!

  26. Tina says

    I have been making my yogurt for a year or so now and I accidentally left it in the exclaimer over night and it really did come out thicker, altho a bit “grainy” not sure what that was about. I buy raw milk and NEVER heat it above 105…….I trust my source and wouldn’t even consider killing off all the good in the raw milk.

  27. Doug says

    My sister gave me some room temperature culture years ago and I just use regular over the counter milk (NOT ultra-pasterized). Pour a cup or half quart, depending on what I think I’ll be needing of milk cold, add a spoon of todays yogurt, stir a bit and let it sit for a day or two on the counter covered with a paper towel. Couldn’t be easier. The room temp culture doesn’t get as thick so I’ll strain it through a coffee filter in the fridge for a few hours. The timing just hasn’t mattered at all, of course in the summer it processes faster. If I’m out of milk I’ll stick the culture in the fridge till I get some. My daughter is a little freaked out about milk sitting on the counter but once I make something out of it she can’t tell the difference between it and store bought.

  28. Kamila says

    Hi I found your blog and I’m going to try the yogurt. I don’t have the starter but I have Bulgarian yogurt from the Health Food store. We shall see.

    Thank You, Kamila

  29. Deanne Garofalo says

    Do you have to buy the starter for every batch or do you use yogurt from a previous batch I was confused on that.

  30. mary akins says

    Pls, where can I get starter & how can I get unsweetner milk, am from Nigeria all our milk are very sweet. One question is it d milk dat they are selling in d store I my going to use? If no, how can I get my own milk

  31. Liz says

    Just a note: If you want to make your yogurt thicker, just add a couple of tablespoons of powdered milk to the mixture. Just the powder, no water. Works like a charm!

  32. Jeff says

    Question–using the cooler method, do you really FILL the cooler with hot water? If so, doesn’t the water leak into the loose lids? If not, how much do you put in–just to near-the-top of the jars?

  33. Angelina says

    Hi, what kind of milk do you use. Will raw milk work for this? Do I need to get the cream of befor using the milk?

    • says

      Raw milk will kill your culture over time. You can use raw milk, without heating but know that after several batches your yogurt will get runny. If you want thick yogurt that is raw pasteurize some of the milk to keep your culture healthy and use it to make your raw yogurt.

  34. Jessie Radcliffe says

    Hi. This might sound like a silly question but I read somewhere if I add a bit of gelatine to my milk at the start it will thicken it up a bit. Is this true, or have you tried this?


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